These are the most common analytes to test your private well for. EPA suggested upper limits are displayed under each category. These values are known as a MCL or Maximum Contaminent Levels, they describe the legal maximum level of contaminent allowed in private drinking water. MCL levels are enforced by the EPA.
Total coliforms contamination in well water refers to the presence of bacteria commonly found in the environment, particularly in soil and surface water. While the presence of total coliform bacteria alone is not necessarily harmful to health, it can indicate the presence of other potentially harmful bacteria or pathogens. High levels of total coliforms can indicate that the well is contaminated by surface water or fecal matter, which can lead to serious health issues.
E.coli (Escherichia coli) contamination in well water is a serious concern as it is an indicator of fecal contamination and can indicate the presence of other harmful pathogens. E.coli is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Consuming or coming into contact with water contaminated with E.coli can lead to serious illness such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and even kidney failure.
When a more accurate depiction of the amount of Total Coliforms or E.coli is present in a water sample a Quanti-Tray evaluation can be administered. Quanti-Tray results indicate an MPN (most probable number) which in turn provides us with a quantitative representation of the amount of CFUs (colony forming units) that are in a sample. The Quanti-Tray method can give us results from less than 1 to greater than 2420 CFUs.
Nitrate contamination in well water can occur due to agricultural and industrial activities, specifically from fertilizers and industrial waste. High levels of nitrates in drinking water can be harmful, especially to infants under 6 months old, as it can cause a condition called "blue baby syndrome" in which the blood is unable to carry enough oxygen. Long-term exposure to high levels of nitrates can also increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
Arsenic contamination in well water can occur naturally or due to industrial activities. Arsenic is a toxic chemical that can be harmful to health if consumed in high concentrations over a long period of time. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, and other serious health problems. Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic in drinking water can also increase the risk of certain types of cancer. It's important to have well water tested for arsenic and treated if necessary.
These analytes are not as common, but may be necessary to target concerns with your water.
Ammonia, often originating from agricultural runoff, fertilizers, or industrial discharges, can infiltrate groundwater, affecting well water quality. Exposure to elevated ammonia levels may lead to adverse health effects, including nausea, abdominal pain, and potential long-term impacts on the nervous system.
BOD5, or Biological Oxygen Demand 5, is a common measure of the amount of organic matter present in wastewater. It measures the amount of oxygen required by microorganisms to break down the organic matter in a wastewater sample over a period of 5 days.
Chlorine contamination in well water can occur due to industrial activities or due to the use of chlorine as a disinfectant by water treatment plants. High levels of chlorine can cause skin and eye irritation and affect the taste and odor of the water. If chlorine is found in your well water, you should consider using a different source of water for drinking and cooking or using a water treatment system to remove it.
Conductivity in well water refers to the water's ability to conduct electricity and is related to the total dissolved solids (TDS) present in the water. High levels of conductivity can indicate high levels of TDS and can cause scaling in pipes and appliances, and affect the taste and aesthetic of the water.
Dissolved oxygen (DO) refers to the amount of oxygen gas that is dissolved in water. In private well drinking water, DO levels can affect the taste, odor, and color of the water, as well as the growth of microorganisms. Low DO levels in well water can indicate the presence of dissolved solids or organic matter, which can promote the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms.
Fluoride contamination in well water can occur naturally or due to industrial activities. High levels of fluoride can cause dental and skeletal fluorosis, which can lead to discolored teeth and bone damage. It's important to have well water tested for fluoride and treated if necessary. If fluoride is found in your well water, you should consider using a different source of water for drinking and cooking or using a water treatment system such as a reverse osmosis installation to remove fluoride.
Hardness in well water refers to the high levels of calcium and magnesium ions present. It can cause buildup in pipes, appliances, and make soap less effective. It is not harmful to health but considered a nuisance. A water treatment system like a water softener can help remove the hardness.
Iron contamination in well water can occur naturally in some areas and can result in discolored water and staining of clothes and fixtures. High levels of iron can also cause taste and odor issues, as well as clogging of plumbing. If iron is found in your well water, you should consider using a water treatment system such as a reverse osmosis or iron curtain installation.
Lead contamination in well water can occur due to the presence of lead pipes or other sources of lead in the surrounding area, or due to corrosion of lead-based solder in plumbing. Lead exposure can cause serious health problems, including developmental issues in children, so it's important to have well water tested and treated if necessary. If lead is found, it's recommended to use an alternative source of water for drinking and cooking.
Nitrite contamination in well water can occur due to agricultural and industrial activities. High levels of nitrite can be harmful to health and can cause methemoglobinemia, a condition that reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. If nitrite is found in your well water, you should consider using a different source of water for drinking and cooking.
Orthophosphate contamination in well water can occur naturally or due to agricultural and industrial activities. High levels of orthophosphates can cause eutrophication in water bodies and can also affect taste and odor of the water. If orthophosphates are found in your well water, you should consider using a water treatment system to remove it.
Oxidation reduction potential (ORP) is a measure of the capacity of water to oxidize or reduce substances in the water. In private well drinking water, ORP can indicate the presence of contaminants such as bacteria or other organic matter that can affect water quality and safety. ORP levels in well water can be affected by various factors such as the presence of dissolved oxygen, pH levels, and the type and concentration of dissolved substances in the water.
pH level in well water refers to the measure of acidity or basicity of the water. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH level of less than 7 is considered acidic and a pH level above 7 is considered basic. High levels of acidity can cause corrosive effects on pipes and fixtures, while high levels of basicity can cause scaling. Ideally, the pH level of well water should be between 6.5 and 8.5.
Sulfate contamination in well water can occur naturally or due to industrial activities. High levels of sulfate can cause diarrhea, stomach upset and can have a laxative effect. It can also affect taste and odor of the water. Sulfates also have the ability to cause premature corrosion to plumbing fixtures and concrete septic tanks. Symtoms of sulfate contamination include cloudy glassware and salt-like scaling to the surfaces of metallic plumbing fixtures.
Salinity refers to the concentration of dissolved salts in water. When saltwater infiltrates the ground and mixes with groundwater, it can increase the salinity of private well drinking water. This can result from road salt application, agriculture, or industrial processes. High levels of salinity in drinking water can affect its taste, cause health problems, and damage plumbing and appliances.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) contamination in well water refers to the presence of dissolved minerals and other non-organic substances. High levels of TDS can affect the taste and aesthetic of the water and lead to scaling in pipes and appliances. TDS is not harmful to health but can be considered a nuisance. A water filtration or reverse osmosis system can help reduce TDS.
Turbidity in well water refers to the presence of suspended particles such as clay, silt, algae or microorganisms. High levels of turbidity can affect the aesthetic of the water, make it cloudy or discolored, and can make it difficult to disinfect the water. Turbidity can also be an indicator of other contaminants in the water. A water filtration or sedimentation system can help reduce turbidity.
TSS is a measure of the amount of solid particles, both organic and inorganic, that are suspended in wastewater. TSS is an important parameter for wastewater treatment plants as it can affect the treatment efficiency and the quality of the final effluent. Monitoring TSS in wastewater is important to ensure that the septic system is effectively removing solid particles and meeting regulatory requirements for wastewater discharge.